Ahmad Scotland has been racing for quite some time and in the last few years has made moves in the motorsport world by taking part in almost all kinds motorsport discipline like Rallying, Circuit Racing and Hillclimbs. As a member of a Saudi-based ‘Alloy Army’ racing team, Ahmad typically races in anything he gets his hand on from Legend racecars to offroad buggies. We linked up with Ahmad for a Q & A session and discovered what pushed him into a leading figure in the motorsport world.
What got you into motorsports?
I’m not from a motorsport family, my dad doesn’t even drive. In fact, I was just following the normal steps of life that we all take. Study, graduate, find work, find love, start a family, etc. but something extreme sharply changed the direction of my “normal path”. Someone who I loved dearly more than words can describe died without any warning. One moment she was there talking to me, the next moment she’s gone. When I lost her, something changed in me, my view of the world started to rearrange as if all my life I’ve been wearing tinted glasses and suddenly they were taken off and I saw life for what it is. At any moment life could cease to exist and I looked at myself and realised that I was building my entire life based on the opinions of others. I slowly learned to suppress my dreams for the “safe option” and not follow “childish fantasies”, there is nothing wrong with stability and different people have different goals in life so I’m not criticising anyone, only myself. After losing someone who was worth the world, I started to plan how I could build my own world once more and my childhood dream of race cars emerged from the shadows. But I didn’t just make the jump without calculation, I prepared and studied and organised myself, it became an addiction, I would stay up all day and all night learning as much as I can about the business of motorsports and sponsorship acquisition and sports marketing. It’s like being trapped on a deserted island and building a boat to sail away, you have to make sure you build a strong enough boat as you have no idea where this journey will go. I’m very lucky to go from a nearly broke, no name, inexperienced driver to an established professional driver, not a day goes by where I am not extremely thankful for the life I have been blessed with and I owe it to the incredible people around me who worked so hard to help me build this dream.
What category (or categories) of motorsport do you take part in?
Whatever category I need to be in, being a race car driver is a full time career for me so every decision is made based on the opportunities around me and the vision of team and sponsors. I started my career in drifting, moved to freestyle and stunt, then into circuit. But now I’m finally moving towards a category I’ve genuinely wanted from the day I first started, rally driving. Now that the Dakar Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia, the motorsport in the country is likely to open up more rally events so I’m looking forwards to hopefully competing in the national rallies in the hopes of possibly partaking in Dakar 2021.
What kind of cars have you raced in?
The first rally car I ever drove was a Subaru Impreza. First circuit car was a Lotus Exige, followed quickly by a US Legend car which I was hooked on instantly. I’ve run a couple of single seaters like the Formula PA and of course multiple US Legends. I love hot hatches and run a wide range of them on track like Seat Leon Cupra Rs, Honda Civic Type Rs, etc. In terms of sports cars, I’ve run vehicles like Mazda MX-5s, Ford Mustangs, Caterham Superlights and recently got the privilege to run AlloyKSA’s monstrous classic +500hp Slant Nose Porsche which is a handful to drive but extremely rewarding when you drive it right. When it comes to off road, I’ve gone wild in various rally buggies, my favourite by far is my Yamaha YXZ especially because it runs a sequential. Multiple Subaru Impreza and Ford Fiesta rally cars, got a chance to run a 70’s Ford Escort MKII which surprised me because I didn’t expect that 50 year old car to be so agile. I’ve been handed the keys to lots of trucks and SUVs to run hard off road, the most memorable of which is Torque Speed Automotive’s heavily modified SVT Raptor which was an absolute beast, it felt like I was driving a planet… if planets came with grunting V8s and whining superchargers!
Tell us about your Yamaha YXZ? What made you go for it?
I adore rally driving. I have so much respect for other driving styles and have experienced a lot of them, circuit racing is an incredible discipline and racing wheel to wheel with other competitors is thrilling and much harder than it looks, drifting is also one hell of a skill, even drag racing has my respect. But it’s something about racing against yourself on continuously changing surfaces, it’s like a violent ballet of high speed problem solving and it’s my favourite dance. So I have always been entertaining the idea of moving towards some kind of rally buggy as I felt that it would be the most feasible vehicle for the region. About a year ago I discussed the future of my career with my title sponsor AlloyKSA and then left the idea on ice as it’s not an easy step to take… This year I was approached by Yamaha who gave me the opportunity to test drive a couple of their YXZ buggies and I instantly fell in love with them. Unlike other UTVs that ran a CVT transmission that would constantly blow out belts, the YXZ felt extremely robust and I love having the ability to punch through gears and go over jumps without worrying about reliability. When Dakar announced it will be coming to Saudi, the stars aligned for me, my team and my partners. My title sponsor AlloyKSA joined forces with Yamaha KSA and now we’re working towards creating a rally driving path for us all.
What do you enjoy most about it?
Sequential gear. Hands down one of the biggest selling factors of the YXZ is the gear, not only does it make the drive extremely fun, but it’s robust as hell! My YXZ specifically has its own little tweaks though, I have a turbo, extra fuel tank and various other modifications to meet the race requirements, she’s a wild machine and genuinely puts a smile on my face every time I get behind the wheel. But even more to that is what she represents… AlloyKSA put in countless hours of work into the painting, powder coating and bodywork to make her look absolutely incredible in the Alloy Army digital camo livery. Then Yamaha put in the hard work to prepare her to rally standards so she can be ready to compete in the new season. This YXZ represents a major step in my career and reminds me to be so thankful to have the support of the best partners and team mates I could have asked for, it’s truly humbling.
What are your future plans with it?
Hopefully Dakar 2021. This is new territory for us as a team and for me as a driver, there’s a lot to learn and it’s going to be a difficult journey. But I have faith in my team that we might just be able to pull this off, we plan to compete in the national rallies in the hopes of qualifying to partake in Dakar.
As a side quest, I personally want to see what else this buggy can do, I had the idea of maybe running it on circuit or a hill climb by lowering her and seeing how she handles. It’s probably a crazy idea, but I’m just curious to see if a Yamaha YXZ can be used for more than just off-roading.
What advice would you give to others who want to take part in motorsport?
It depends on what you want to get out of it. If this is going to be a fun hobby then I would recommend good quality training, lots of seat time and study as much as you can, the internet is full of useful information that can teach you to be a better driver. Also, be safe, not just physically but financially, don’t go for cars you can barely afford to run, always give yourself a financial cushion so you can comfortably run a season and still have money left over should things go wrong, don’t get caught up in the “I need to make the car faster or handle better” mentality, learn to improve yourself as a driver before you criticise the car.
Now, if this is something you want to pursue as a career it’s a different story. You have to learn the business. Seriously, unless you are extremely rich or have tremendous backing, you need to learn how to bring in money. What I discovered at the start of my career was almost every race car driver I met was funding their racing from their own pocket, I committed a ridiculous amount of time and energy studying marketing and sponsorship. Getting in a car and learning to go fast is fun, but that’s only a small part of a professional’s career, when you’re not in a race suit you’re in a business suit and you’re working countless hours to keep your partners happy and your fan base interested. You have to be ready to sacrifice and calculated take risks, this is no easy job especially if you start off as a nobody with a small amount of savings. Study, commit, sacrifice and take the entire role seriously, not just the driving.
Lastly, any last words or remarks?
I genuinely want to thank the incredible people that are holding me up. I feel so blessed to have such an incredible career as a pro race car driver, especially looking back at what has happened in my past that has led up to where I stand now. But none of this would exist without the foundation of amazing people who have looked after me. AlloyKSA are the best title partners I could have ever asked for as they have shown time and time again that they care just as much about my personal growth and dreams, as their own business success. A big thank you to Yamaha KSA and Al Khorayef who have put their trust in me and I hope we can make them proud. And finally, the Alloy Army who are more than just my race team, they are truly a family, they put in the hard work and rarely get the praise they deserve, as a race car driver I’m simply the face that stands out, but look behind me and you’ll see a large group of amazing people
holding me up.